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PEOPLE VS ELBERTO TUBONGBANUA

GR. NO. 171271, AUGUST 31, 2006

Penned by Justice YNARES-SANTIAGO

TOPIC: AMENDMENT OF INFORMATION

Facts:

Elberto Tubongbanua, the accused was employed as a family driver by Atty. Evelyn Sua-Kho since 1998. He was charged with
the crime of murder by stabbing Atty. Evelyn Sua-Kho eighteen times and with three incise wounds aside from other minor injuries,
sometime in February 12, 2001 in San Juan Metro Manila. Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty. The RTC of Pasig City
rendered judgment finding the guilt of Tubongbanua and is sentenced to suffer the severe penalty of death. The case was elevated to
this Court because the penalty imposed. However, pursuant to our ruling in People v. Mateo, the case was transferred and referred
to the Court of Appeals. On October 21, 2005, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modifications the decision of the trial court.

The aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult to the rank, sex and age of the victim were included as amendments to
the information after the presentation by the prosecution of its evidence.

Issues: WON amendments to the information after the presentation by the prosecution of its evidence should be allowed.

Ruling:

The Court ruled in the affirmative. The insertion of the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult or disregard of the
respect due to rank, age, or sex of the victim is clearly a formal, not a substantial, amendment. These amendments do not have the
effect of charging... another offense different or distinct from the charge of murder as contained in the original information. They
relate only to the range of the penalty that the court might impose in the event of conviction. The amendment did not adversely affect
any substantial right of appellant. Besides, appellant never objected to the presentation of evidence to prove the aggravating
circumstances of dwelling and insult or in disregard of the respect due to the offended party on account of rank, age or sex.

The Court of Appeals erred in not allowing the amendments in the information regarding the aggravating circumstances of
dwelling and insult or disregard of the respect due to rank, age or sex. Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, provides that an
amendment after the plea of the accused is permitted only as to matters of form, provided leave of court is obtained and such
amendment is not prejudicial to the rights of the accused. A substantial amendment is not permitted after the accused had already
been arraigned.

A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction
of the court. All other matters are merely of form. Thus, the following have been held to be merely formal amendments, viz.: (1) new...
allegations which relate only to the range of the penalty that the court might impose in the event of conviction; (2) an amendment
which does not charge another offense different or distinct from that charged in the original one; (3) additional allegations which do
not alter the... prosecution's theory of the case so as to cause surprise to the accused and affect the form of defense he has or will
assume; and (4) an amendment which does not adversely affect any substantial right of the accused, such as his right to invoke
prescription.

The test as to whether an amendment is only of form and an accused is not prejudiced by such amendment is whether or not
a defense under the information as it originally stood would be equally available after the amendment is made, and whether or not
any evidence which the accused might have would be equally applicable to the information in one form as in the other; if the answer
is in the affirmative, the amendment is one of form and not of substance.